PARIS, May 11 (UPI) — The European Space Agency says its Herschel Space Telescope has found a hole in space, giving astronomers a glimpse into the end of the star-forming process.
“Although jets and winds of gas have been seen coming from young stars in the past, it has always been a mystery exactly how a star uses these to … emerge from its birth cloud,” ESA said. “Now, for the first time, Herschel may be seeing an unexpected step in this process.”
The astronomers said a cloud of bright reflective gas known to astronomers as NGC 1999 sits next to a black patch of sky. For a long time, scientists have known such black patches are dense clouds of dust and gas that block light.
When Herschel looked in its direction to study nearby young stars, the space agency said the cloud continued to look black. But astronomers said Herschel’s infrared instruments are designed to see into such clouds, so either the cloud was immensely dense or something was wrong.
ESA said scientists investigating further found the patch looks black because it’s empty. Something had blown a hole right through the cloud.
Researchers said they posit the hole was opened when the narrow jets of gas from some of the area’s young stars punctured the sheet of dust and gas.
Whatever the precise chain of events, ESA said it could be an important glimpse into the way newborn stars disperse their birth clouds.
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